Title: Losing Lizzy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary
Author: Regina Jeffers
Genre: Regency Romance; Historical Fiction; Clean Romance; Fan Fiction; Classic Romantic Fiction
She thought him dead. Now only he can save their daughter.
When Lady Catherine de Bourgh told Elizabeth Bennet: “And this is your real opinion! This is your final resolve! Very well. I shall now know how to act. Do not imagine, Miss Bennet, that your ambition will ever be gratified. I came to try you. I hoped to find you reasonable; but, depend upon it, I will carry my point,” no one knew how vindictive and manipulative her ladyship might prove, but Darcy and Elizabeth were about to discover the bitter truth for themselves.
This is a story of true love conquering even the most dire circumstances. Come along with our dear couple as they set a path not only to thwart those who stand between them and happiness, but to forge a family, one not designed by society’s strict precepts, but rather one full of hope, honor, loyalty and love.
Her eyes fluttered open several times before she smiled at him. Shards of his broken heart fell into place again. “William?”
For several elongated seconds everything was perfection. Then, reality arrived. Elizabeth bolted upright, fighting to scramble from his hold. Literally, she fell backwards, having tripped over her hem.
“Away!” she cautioned, holding out her hand to ward off his advance. “Who are you?” she demanded.
Darcy rose to extend his hand to her to her. “You know who I am,” he said with a small smile of understanding.
“You cannot be Fitzwilliam Darcy. They told me Fitzwilliam Darcy was dead.”
He extended his hand a second time. “Trust me. I am very much alive, although there were many attempts to end my life.”
“William?” Her mouth formed the word, but no sound escaped her lips. A thousand different emotions darted across her features: Confusion. Fear. Anger. Defeat. Denial. Hope.
Darcy knelt before her to gather her to him. “Yes, love. William. Your William.”
Her hands searched his face—his shoulders—and his hair. “How can it be you?” She leaned into him then, nearly knocking him over. She kissed his jaw—his throat—the corner of his mouth. Her tears wet his cravat. Wet his face. Her softness. Her scent. Filled him. Returning all the pieces of his heart to where they belonged.
At length, their mouths met. Urgency. Joining. Parting. Rejoining. A reacquaintance. He ran a string of kisses over her cheeks and nose before returning to her mouth. Their tongues intertwined. Testing. Offering proof of what existed between them, while comparing this moment to all those they had known previously. For the first time since that fateful day on the docks, Darcy felt whole again.
For the briefest of moments, she swayed as if she meant to fall deeper into his embrace, and then she was shoving against his chest, demanding her release. “Late!” She scrambled to her feet. “I am late!” She rushed to lock the shop door. “I must go!”
“Go where?” he asked as he trailed her through the shelving area toward the back of the store.
She turned to him, walking backward. “I must call upon Mrs. Harris, Mr. Sheffield’s particular friend.”
She slid her hands into the sleeves of her pelisse before reaching for the door. She stopped quite suddenly, never turning around, but she said, “I would be pleased if you would accompany me. We have much to say to each other, but I am required at Mrs. Harris’s home immediately.”
For some reason her shoulders stiffened, but she smiled up at him when he joined her in the opened passageway behind the bookstore. “Would you prefer the use of my carriage?” he said when he fell in step with her. “The weather is quite cold for early September.”
“It is only a few streets over,” she explained. “And you know I am an excellent walker.” Her eyebrow lifted in a natural challenge, and he breathed a bit easier. They were still on common ground.
“I recall your walking to Netherfield through the mud,” he said with a return of the easiness between them. He did not wish to push her too quickly. Certainly, his reappearance had to be a shock to her. “Mr. Sheffield possesses a ‘particular friend’?” he asked.
“Mrs. Harris,” she explained, although she did not look at him, a fact which perplexed Darcy, “set her sights on Sheffield when we arrived in Brighton. He has been slow to respond: I fear he worries what is to become of me if he takes up with the lady.”
Darcy thought if she would again accept the offer of his hand in marriage, Mr. Sheffield could choose whether to pursue the lady or not.
“The man in the shop,” he began, attempting to learn whether she wanted the gentleman’s attentions or not.
“Mr. Townsend,” she supplied the man’s name. “Mr. Sidney Townsend.”
“Mr. Townsend,” he repeated, all along thinking he would be soon learning all he could of the man, perhaps another job for Mr. Cowan. “The man in the shop called me ‘Lieutenant Dartmore.’”
She blushed thoroughly. “Before arriving in Brighton, Mr. Sheffield and I had decided I would be posing as his niece.”
When he came abreast of her again, he asked, “But when you fainted, Sheffield told Townsend I was your husband, Lieutenant Dartmore.”
“Of His Majesty’s Royal Navy,” she confirmed.
“I do not mind assuming the role of your husband,” he said, “but why was it necessary for you to be a married lady?”
She ignored his question, crossing through the yard of a nicely situated cottage. “Mrs. Harris?” Elizabeth called as she rapped on the door. “It is Elizabeth.” She knocked louder. “I am grieved to be late.”
When no one answered, she moved to the window to peer inside. Tapping on the glass she called, “Mrs. Harris!” Her voice began to display her alarm. “Mrs. Harris!”
He tried the door, but it was latched. “I will go around to the back.”
“I shall go with you,” she said as he led the way.
They found the back door wide open. “Mrs. Harris?” she called again.
Darcy placed her behind him. “Allow me to go first.”
“She would never leave the door open,” Elizabeth said, her voice trembling. “The lady lives alone, and, of late, there has been an influx of men searching for food and goods to either sell or pawn for money.”
Darcy edged around the corner of a large china chest to note a middle-aged woman sprawled out on the floor, a trickle of blood marking her forehead. He knelt to examine the lady’s condition, but Elizabeth sprinted around him, calling out as she opened doors along the hall.
“Lizzy! Lizzy Anne!” She rushed the stairs. “Lizzy! Come out! Do not be frightened! Lizzy!”
He caught her then, holding her in place. “Who is Lizzy?” She sucked in a quick breath, but he knew her beyond recovery because of the wild look in her eyes. He presented her a good shake, his own anxiety rising quickly. “Who is Lizzy?” he repeated.
“Our daughter,” she murmured, collapsing against him.
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What makes your featured book a must-read?
This story is an expression of life and of truth and is a representation of the period portrayed. The reader can easily relate to the characters and situations despite the Regency era setting, for a parent’s love for a child is universal, and such universal themes easily stand the test of time. “Losing Lizzy” takes two of the most popular characters in literature and places them in a situation beyond what Jane Austen might have contrived. We see Darcy and Elizabeth fighting to keep their fledgling family together when the whole world is against them.
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Regina Jeffers, an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era romances, has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and author. Living outside of Charlotte, NC, Jeffers writes novels that take the ordinary and adds a bit of mayhem, while mastering tension in her own life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her “grand joys.”
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